Voters across the UK believe Scotland is likely to become independent within the next decade – while more than half of those in Northern Ireland want a referendum on a united Ireland in the next five years, according to a series of polls.
The Sunday Times commissioned a series of surveys across the four nations of the United Kingdom to gauge attitudes towards the Union.
The findings highlight some of the difficulties facing Boris Johnson as he struggles to keep the country together following its departure from the European Union.
In Scotland, the poll found 49 per cent backed independence compared to 44 per cent against – a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent if the undecideds are excluded.
In Northern Ireland, 47 per cent still want to remain in the UK, with 42 per cent in favour of a United Ireland and a significant proportion – 11 per cent – undecided.
However, asked if they supported a referendum on a United Ireland within the next five years, 51 per cent said yes compared to 44 per cent who were against.
In Wales, where support for independence is traditionally weakest, 23 per cent still backed leaving the UK while 31% supported a referendum.
Across all four nations, more voters expected Scotland to be out of the UK within 10 years than thought it would still remain.
In England, the margin was 49 per cent to 19 per cent, in Northern Ireland it was 60 per cent to 28 per cent, in Wales 49 per cent to 23 per cent and in Scotland itself 49 per cent to 30 per cent.
With crucial elections to the Scottish Parliament coming up in May, the poll found the SNP way ahead on 70 per cent – up seven points since the last elections in 2016 – while the Tories were down six points on 25 per cent, with Labour down five points on 19 per cent.